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Robotruck startup Inceptio raises $270 million, JD Logistics and Meituan lead round

Inceptio, a Chinese-based robotruck startup, completed a $270 million Series A on Tuesday. JD Logistics, Meituan, and PAG were the main investors in the round.

What’s the significance? It’s rare to see two Chinese tech giants participate in the same round of funding, which suggests that they view Inceptio as an important player.

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The round of funding is managed by JD Logistics, the online retailer JD’s delivery unit Life Service Platform Meituan, and the private equity company PAG. Additional investors are Express Courier Deppon as well as IDG Capital, Inceptio said in an announcement on Tuesday. The investors didn’t offer an estimate of the value of the company.

  • Inceptio has raised over $490 million since its inception at the end of 2018.
  • The Shanghai-based startup for robotrucks will use the money to boost research in-house on self-driving technology and to accelerate investment in electric trucks, according to the announcement.

Both JD and Meituan have made investments in autonomous vehicles, but advancements in driverless technology have been slower than many had hoped for. JD is reportedly behind on its own self-driving vehicle project.

  • JD presented a fully autonomous truck in Beijing in mid-2018 and said the testing fleet would begin commercial operations by 2020. The paper was published (in Chinese). The company has not yet announced any changes. A JD spokeswoman was unable to answer TechNode’s inquiry regarding the goal.

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  • Meituan has also invested in autonomous vehicles for a while. The company has invested in Haomo.ai, an organisation that is developing self-driving systems that can be automated for driverless passenger cars, along with electric vehicle start-up Li Auto.
  • Inceptio announced in March that it would make two self-driving trucks in mass production models before the end of the year. They will be developed in conjunction with Chinese automotive manufacturers Dongfeng and Sinotruk, respectively.
  • In November of this year, Inceptio raised $220 million in its Series A. Investors include the battery giant CATL and logistics company GLP, as well as Nio Capital, an investment company partly founded by electric vehicle manufacturer Nio.

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